Blogs:

What dishes could you expect at a dinner with Queen Elizabeth? What did the Emperor Nero eat after fiddle practice? What did Lewis and Clark roast over their fire? Today there are many fad diets, like the hugely popular Paleo Diet, that claim healthier eating by replicating the diets of our ancestors. Here at the library we have gathered several ways for you to explore the history of food and maybe find a “new” favorite old recipe.


www.foodtimeline.org is an exhaustive list of authoratitive information about food from early human history to modern times. This site was created and maintained by librarian Lynne Olver and includes a detailed bibliography, links to recipes throughout history, and informational biographies on our favorite foods.


http://blog.americanhistory.si.edu/osaycanyousee/food-history/ This blog from the National Museum of American History includes highlights from their collection of food throughout American History.


The Oxford Handbook of Food History edited by Jeffrey M Pilcher provides twenty seven essays that explore the history through the lens of food. These scholarly essays explore the historiography of this research and point towards avenues of continued scholarship.

Recipes tell stories. They tell stories of family gatherings, beloved traditions and good meals shared with friends. When we share a recipe with another, we aren’t just passing along our impeccable taste, we are giving another person a little taste of who we are, like our love of thyme or our obsession with the perfectly grilled steak. We hope that you will join us at the library as we support this sharing with our new recipe exchange program.

Our initial meeting will be focusing on the most versatile of foods, cookies. Sweet or savory, chewy or crisp, cookies come in all flavors and sizes. Bring your favorite cookie recipe to share, whether it be your grandmother’s fail-proof chocolate chip or a new exotic favorite. We will be featuring your recipes on this blog as well as compiling a list of recipes to share with others at the Central Library.

If you need inspiration please see the book list below. We have carefully sifted through our huge collection of cookbooks to bring you the best cookie books that Multnomah County Library has to offer.

 Why do I recommend Astro City to people who don't read superhero comics? Two reasons.  Reason 1: It isn't a superhero comic. It's a comic about a city (that happens to have superheroes in it).  Reason 2: I have to tell you a story.
 
There were these two guys who loved superhero comics. But they didn't like what they saw them turning into... dark, ironic, gritty and grim slashfests loaded with gun-toting anti-hero vigilantes. So they decided to do something about it. They designed their own worlds, complete with histories and futures. They created adventures featuring fallible, interesting human beings, some of whom happened to have impossible abilities. They examined big questions such as 'what does it mean to be human?' and 'what does it mean to be a hero?'. One of those guys (me) played to an audience of five, doing this all via a superhero role-playing game called Champions.  The other, Harvey and Eisner Award-winner Kurt Busiek, was kind enough to share his far more engaging world with us all. Thank goodness!
 
Astro City book jacketAstro City is the series and the setting. There is no one star, no central person or group we follow, but if you consider the city to be the main character, then what we have is a collection of vignettes that illustrate its 'life'. It changes, it grows, it has good features and shady ones, and joy is in the discovery. One of my favorite bits is a story about a family moving to the city and their eventful trip with a cheerful cabbie who wouldn't live anywhere else. Superheroic battles rage in the background, but the real story happens in the cab. Will they be scared away by the cosmic forces battling in the skies? 
 
Another tale features a city teen sent to stay with her country cousins, rolling her eyes at the small-town hero helping the locals. She sees REAL heroes back home, OMG! But is there more to the story? Why does this 'Roustabout' seem so interested in her family? 
 
There are certainly stories that focus on the heroes, but even those are far more than biff-pow action spectaculars. One shows a day in the life of Samaritan, whose free time consists of stolen moments between emergencies. What he dreams of is flying free, just for the joy of it.
 
The graphic novel collection Life in the Big City is a great place to start, although most collections are self-contained story arcs. For those who love this as much as I do, there are lots more, and Kurt is now releasing new Astro City stories again. (Yess!)
 
If you'd like to see this 'human's eye view' applied to superheroes you may already know, check out Busiek's Marvels: Eye of the Camera, where he follows Eye of the Camera book jacketthe history of the Marvel Universe through the eye of news photographer Phil Sheldon, who saw it all from Day One. Or have a look at his take on the first superhero (DC's 'Superman') as he confronts the effects on humanity of his Always Having Been There to Save the Day.
 
Kurt unfailingly finds the human element in superhuman worlds. Astro City would make a great setting for a Champions campaign... (grin)....

"Reading is a gift for life."

Volunteer Pam Jacobs

by Mindy Moreland

For Pam Jacobs, seeing a young child’s face light up at the prospect of a new story is a delight that never fades. Books, kids, and fostering literacy were the guiding passions of Pam’s career as preschool and Head Start teacher, and these same passions continue to inspire her as a volunteer. Today she donates her time and energies to several literacy organizations, including SMART (Start Making A Reader Today) and a read-aloud program at an assisted living facility, as well as two library programs.

When she first contacted the library in 2009 to inquire about becoming a volunteer, Pam recalls, her branch needed help with the Summer Reading program. She happily signed on, using her love of children’s literature and her early childhood education background to connect with parents and children eager to choose prizes and advance on their game boards. She’s delighted by their excitement and eager to encourage a love of reading, Pam says. She has helped with Summer Reading every year since, amassing a stack of Summer Reading t-shirts in the process. She enjoys the chance to get to know the library staff as well as the community she serves. “Volunteering is great,” she says.

Pam also volunteers year-round with Every Child, the early childhood outreach program, helping to sort, sticker, and prepare library materials for distribution. She works on projects such as assembling the library gift bags sent home with each new baby born in a local hospital.These contain a board book and information on storytimes and early learning programs. She’s proud to be able to help Every Child, developing young learners who will soon be excitedly completing their own Summer Reading game boards. “We want to keep them on that path,” Pam says. “Reading is a gift for a lifetime.”

 

A Few Facts About Pam

Home library: Hollywood Library

Currently reading: The Bartender's Tale, by Ivan Doig. Doig's style captures me. He is a real old-fashioned story teller.

Most influential book: The Good Earth. This book began an ongoing interest in the works of Pearl S. Buck and a fascination in other cultures. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. A college instructor made Faulkner's work come alive. Other authors that have touched my life in later years are Barbara Kingsolver, Louise Erdrich, and Alice Hoffman.

Favorite book from childhood: The series about the Bobbsey twins (Laura Lee Hope) and later, Little Women (Louisa May Alcott).

A book that made you laugh or cry: Kent Haruf's books make me do both. So do the books of Anne Lamott.

Favorite section of the library: Definitely, the children's section!

E-reader or paper book? I prefer the feel of a paper book.

Favorite guilty reading pleasure: Mysteries of all kinds.

Favorite place to read: In my bed, at a coffee shop, and most of all...at the beach!

 

Big Tiny bookjacketI am fascinated by people who go against societal convention to do something 'crazy' - swim across an ocean, bike across a country or live on food grown within 100 miles of their house. In The Big Tiny, Dee Williams tells the story of her decision to sell her house and pare down her possession to the bare minimum in order to move into a tiny house of her own making. The impetus was an alarming diagnosis for a relatively young woman - congestive heart failure.

Determined to make her precious time count she decides to do this bold thing and discovers that letting go of stuff is hard -- after all, the things we surround ourselves with define us somehow, don't they? I enjoyed Dee Williams voice, her humor, humility and her quirky way of looking at the world.  (As I read, I was picturing her as the comedian Tig Notaro, and as it turns out they kind of look alike, as evidenced in this Ted Talk!) I felt privileged to go on this journey with her. She seems like just the sort of person you'd want to have living in a tiny house in your back yard.

 

Just because a mystery is cozy doesn’t mean it isn’t spicy or hot.

BBC mystery series Rosemary and Thyme is a cozy village mystery series that is both spicy AND hot. It stars Felicity Kendal as Rosemary Boxer and Pam Ferris as LauraThyme: women who are too smart and too curious and too feisty to take what any man (or woman) tells them at face value. Rosemary is a college professor specializing in botany and landscaping who got  the boot in favor a male colleague. She describes herself as ‘more bookworm than earthworm’  As for Laura Thyme, her husband left her for a much younger, more shapely woman. “To hell with men” she tells Rosemary, then as an afterthought “although some are lovely…”

Rosemary’s free-lance landscaping jobs give her the opportunity to peer around bushes and trees to listen in on secret conversations. Laura Thyme balances her out with logic and straight forward practicality. Though they are shot at, lied to and run off the road they keep each other’s spirits up with laughter and of course solve the mystery in the end.

Rosemary and Thyme made me think about other crime solving women- on TV and in books too. I was pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of choices there are. To take a look at what I found check out my list.

I learned five minutes ago that the ban on gay marriage was just struck down by a federal judge, which means that now same-sex marriage is legal in my beloved adopted state of Oregon. I can't wait to tell my kids that now, princesses can marry princesses here.

It was 2004, and I was walking hand in hand with my daughter. I must have made a hissing sound when I saw the sign in my neighborhood that said, “Measure 36. One man, one woman.” My four-year-old daughter, who I’ll call Thing One, definitely noticed my reaction, and she asked me why that sign always made me mad. It was a great opportunity to explain that I believed that people should be allowed to love who they wanted to love and make families with those people, too. I told her that I thought it was wrong for the government to tell two men or two women that they weren’t allowed to marry. In those good old days, Thing One tended to believe everything I said, but this time she looked up at me, a doubtful expression on her face, and said, “Princesses don’t marry princesses, Mommy. They’re supposed to marry princes.”

Having a kid in the 21st century sometimes requires doing research in the service of fighting prevailing preschooler opinions as presented by Disney.

It turns out that sometimes princes can marry princes. I found a picture book called King & King  by Linda de Haan. It begins when a grouchy queen tells her son that it’s time for him to marry. He confesses that he has never met a princess who struck his fancy (and a page boy who happens to be present gives a saucy wink!). Many princesses visit the palace, but the Prince doesn’t seem very interested in any of them. Finally one of the princesses brings her handsome brother along, and when the two princes’ eyes meet, a cloud of red hearts appear over their heads. A fabulous wedding soon follows, the queen retires, and the two princes become kings together.

People can choose to create families in Oregon now with the partners of their choice-- and I think some fabulous weddings may soon follow. Here you’ll find a great list of books for children that are a little more inclusive in their portrayal of couples and families.

Are you doing business in the Portland metro area?  Do you want to identify movers and shakers in our local business community?  For the past 30 years, the Portland Business Journal's Book of Lists has established itself as a key tool for doing business in the area.  This year's list is "by far the most comprehensive edition to date" according to their publisher, Craig Wessel.   A wide range of industry sectors are included to help you identify executives and companies who are major players in their field.  In addition to the Book of Lists, the Portland Business Journal also provides comprehensive coverage of business news and information for the Portland area.  Free remote access is available with a Multnomah County Library card and password.  Apply online if you don't already have a Multnomah County Library card, and open the door to this - and many other subscription-based resources at no charge. 

Town in Bloom bookjacketIf you are familiar with 101 Dalmatians, then you have at the very least, crossed paths with Dodie Smith for she is the author of that much-loved children’s story. And in the not too distant past, she had a revival of sorts with I Capture the Castle being re-released and made into a film. It is an utterly sweet and charming tale of a young woman who navigates the tricky waters of love and ends up all the more independent and witty. Smith wrote a handful of plays and other novels, each one is a gem in its own right. Long out of print, some of these titles were re-released in 2012 by Corsair Publishers and Multnomah County Library has recently purchased them. They are: The Town in Bloom, The New Moon with the Old, and It Ends with Revelations.  

Of these, I have read The Town in Bloom and can highly recommend it. It is a coming of age story set in 1920s London among the fast-moving theatre crowd. Though the heroine Mouse is in her late teens when the story begins, you also hear from her older self recalling the past with a bit of perspective. And like I Capture the Castle, it is a love story, but with a more adult twist.  Nothing explicit mind you, but the themes of affairs (extramarital or otherwise), marriage, divorce, and a woman making it on her own, are topics that are only increase in appreciation if you’ve got a few years under your belt yourself. Young adult readers may well enjoy it, but it deserves a re-read later on in life. If you like historical fiction set in the jazz age, London, the life of a struggling actor, or a good love story where the heroine comes out loving herself most of all, give it a go.

 

picture of lee and bury me standing Lee at Central has this to say about Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca. It opens up the mostly closed world of East European gypsies, or Roma, in the years following the breakup of the Soviet Union. The Roma are a people it is still possible to actively (and violently) discriminate against and Fonseca attempts to tell us why.

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